Category Archives: Organic Wines

Harris Organic Wines, lives in P3erth, Western Australia

Organic Wines – Perth’s Swan Valley

Swan Valley Winery

Harris Organic Wines has been in the Swan Valley winery for over 20 years, we specialise in natural and organic wine. We have a range of organic wines from fortified Pedro Ximenez to Liqueur Tokay and Sparkling Blanc de Blanc. All are available from our Swan Valley Winery.

Harris is the only organic Swan Valley Winery of all the Swan Valley Wineries, you can visit us at the cellar door or shop online at our wine shop. We are located in the Swan Valley on the corner of Memorial Avenue and the Great Northern Highway. The Swan Valley is 30km north of Perth city centre and we specialise in Swan Valley Wine and West Australian Wine.

Harris Organic is in the Swan Valley, West Australia. Duncan’s ancestors were an entrepreneurial lot, with one Francois Girard, owning the Sydney Hotel and another, Michael Hayes, operating one of the first illegal distilleries in Australia.

The first sparkling wine that was made on the premises is named “Madeleine Claire” after their daughter – this Blanc de Blanc (Baskervilloise) is a vintage sparkling Chardonnay.

Underground cellar

Duncan built the low energy underground cellar in 2001 – a much greener method (than that of artificial temperature control).

The Swan Valley Winery underground cellar is made of double brick with 100 mm concrete reinforced infill.

Swan Valley wine region

The area is the oldest wine region in West Australia and one of the hottest grape growing regions in the world, perfect for full-flavoured Organic Wines.

The region is very convenient for visitors to Perth – ideal for a day trip as there are many attractions. Everything is done by hand; from pruning to most importantly, the handpicking of the fruit in late summer; this means there is no machine battered vines or organic wines here – you could say that we are happy producers of “free-range” wines.

Natural – Organic Wines – Swan Valley

Our wines are suitable for vegetarians, vegans and low sodium diets. Our red Shiraz and West Australian wines are preservative-free dessert wines that are unfined and unfiltered.

The natural organic wines are fashioned by hand – from the first budburst of Spring to the final pruning in grey winter, the organic vineyard (where beautiful wine begins) is carefully tended by Duncan.

Because the vineyard is managed using sustainable principles of viticulture, no pesticides or herbicidal chemicals are used on or around the vines, nor are the vines artificially fertilised.

The vines are strip dug with a “silly plough” each spring to turn over the nitrogen-rich winter growth a hard job with Duncan on the sweaty end.

Newsletter and Information

Every month, we create a newsletter.

Here you will find online wine shop promotions, discounts, invitations to festivals, organic news, and other useful information. Please join our Swan Valley Winery mailing list and become our friend!

Harris Organic Wines

Look at our wine list

Take a look at our organic White wine, Red, Dessert and Sparkling Wines. And don’t forget our organic Brandy.

Harris Organic Wines

Organic Wine Shop

Buy Wine Online

Buy all your natural wines from our new online Wine Shop today. Secure payment through Paypal or your credit card, quick delivery guaranteed and our best prices available!

Organic Wine Shop

Organic Wine News

What’s Happening at Harris Organic Wines

Every month, we create a newsletter, catch up with the latest news and events here.

Organic News & Organic Blog

Sign up for our monthly newsletter for member benefits!

Organic Wine club Subscription

Join our organic wine club subscription for lots of benefits.

Introductory Offer for new members – mixed case of a wide range of our fine organic wines – from full-bodied smooth organic red wine and white table organic wines through to luscious dessert wines and traditional method champers from this Swan Valley Winery all picked by the organic winemaker.

Thereafter – 3 monthly deliveries of Swan Valley wine early in the months of March, June, September and December unless otherwise requested) of 6 or 12 organic wines – all our cases are all from our vineyard and Swan Valley winery.

Selections will be posted in early March, June, September and December. These are sensational times of the year from organic Sparkling (traditional method) Champers sparkling at Christmas and New Year. Try some lusciously seductive dessert wines in autumn, full-bodied warm reds in winter as well and look then forward to the chilled dry white Verdelho at a Spring luncheon.

Duncan Harris – Vigneron

Duncan Harris tends the vines and sells only at the Swan Valley Winery cellar door and through the online shop.

Winemaker, Duncan began making wine in 1994, making unfortified preservative-free dessert wines. In 1998 he purchased the Swan Valley property, starting from “scratch”, the first Shiraz vines were planted in 1999. In early 2001, Duncan fortuitously became a full-time vigneron.

It was also the year that he became a father to Madeleine Claire, born in November. A very good year! In his twenty-plus years of viticulture, peer reviews of his Western Australian wines have been positive, with high ratings by writers, judges and many happy bottle lovers.

The Handbook of Horticulture and Viticulture of West Australia.

The Handbook of Horticulture and Viticulture of West Australia. In 1921 “The Handbook of Horticulture and Viticulture of West Australia” was published by the WA Department of Agriculture. Written by Adrien d’Espeissis, a good man, who had not only great practical intent in compiling the handbook, but also empathy and commitment to the endeavours of the collective populace of his adopted home; the state of West Australia.

Duncan Harris is only one of many agriculturalist or viticulturalist who has been inspired and instructed by “The Handbook” extensively over the years (since starting his venture into viticulture and winemaking).

It was because his own 1921 version was falling apart that Duncan decided to undertake the daunting and time-consuming task of reprinting this wonderful book on behalf of others (as well as for himself!).

The first 25 pages of the 3rd Edition and last (including the contents page) of the 633 pages plus index plus photographs (689 pages in total). You will see the pages are clean and there are no spelling mistakes.

This is not a cheapo OCR scanned copy!. If you would like to order a Handbook download an order form or call us on 08 92960216. The West Australian Wine Handbook of Horticulture and Viticulture of West Australia 3rd Edition.

Harris Organic Website

Our Web Site contains links to other Web Sites of third parties (“external sites”) as a convenience to you, operated by other entities and persons. We are not required to maintain or update the links. We do not control the information collected on these web Sites; and is not responsible for their policies and practices. They do not form part of our privacy statement; and we would encourage you to preview their privacy policies before disclosing any of your personal information to them. Harris accepts no liability in relation to material contained on external sites.

The material contained on this website is protected by copyright. Except to the extent permitted by relevant copyright legislation, you must not use, copy, modify, transmit, store, publish or distribute the material on this website, or create any other material using material on this website, without obtaining the prior written consent of Harris.

The website, products, technology and processes contained in this website may be the subject of other intellectual property rights (IPR) owned by us or by third parties.

No license is granted in respect of that IPR other than as set out in these Terms. Your use of this website must not in any way infringe the IPR of any person. Several times per year we may send out information regarding news here, new releases of special offers. If you do not wish to receive this information please advise us and we will remove your personal information from our mail order database.

If at any time the customer or subscriber no longer wants to be included in communications from us, electronic or otherwise, please notify us by mail, phone or email and we will promptly honour this request.

Reasons to Drink Organic Red Wine

There are many reasons to drink organic red wine. A considerable lot of us welcome the way that we can appreciate that periodic glass of organic red wine or “normal” red wine as an extraordinary method to loosen up and de-stress.

Organic Red Wine

Organic red wine likewise has a few all-around noted medical advantages.

Organic Red Wines
Harris Organic Wines

Lots of us appreciate the point that we can enjoy a few glasses of red wine as a great way to unwind and de-stress.

Organic Red wine also has a few well-documented health benefits for you.

Need a boost with the benefits of red wine

In the event that you need a boost, a portion of those organic wine benefits and advantages include:

  •    Lowering terrible cholesterol and raising good cholesterol levels
  •     Reducing the danger of blood coagulating nearly as adequately as anti-inflammatory medicine
  •     Regulating glucose levels
  •     Boosting intellectual prowess and keeping your memory sharp
  •     Protecting cells against free radicals
  •     Fighting contaminations
  •     Reducing malignancy chance
  •     Aiding weight reduction endeavours

While all of those benefits are great, it’s important to remember that table grapes are among the most pesticide-laden fruit. This makes it essential to reach for organic wine when it’s time to fill that glass.

Standard grapes for wine are grown with herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers while organic wines are completely free of these inputs.

Organic wines are also free from synthetic additives and do contain minimal sulphites, which some asthmatic people may be sensitive to.

There is an ever-increasing number of natural and organic wines and vineyards springing up over the country and the planet.

This gives you more choices at the liquor store just as when you go out to eat. You don’t need to surrender incredible taste either. On On most occasions, organic tastes better than standard wines because there aren’t any chemical tastes or added substances.

Studies Have Shown Increased Health Benefits of Organic Wines

The health benefits associated with wine have been common knowledge for years, and organic wine is the healthiest of them all.

When you enjoy drinking organic wine, you are enjoying it the way it was supposed to be enjoyed, with no pesticides, and no hidden nasty chemicals.

Did you know the benefits of organic wines they have:

  • Organic wine has lots of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
  • Organic wine has no pesticide residues
  • While exposure to sulphur dioxide (SO2) maybe a necessary step in winemaking, organic grapes are also treated with far less SO2 than grapes exposed to pesticides.
  • Particularly with modern winemaking
  • Reversatrol is not the correct spelling of Resveratrol.
  • Resveratrol, which is found in red wine, has been shown to lower cholesterol and help reduce the prevalence of cancers, but not all of it survives the process of non-organic winemaking. However, certified organic wine can retain up to 29% more of these ingredients .

Therefore, by using organic methods in our winemaking, we are not only producing high-quality organic wine, but we are also making a sustainable choice for the protection of our environment.

Would you like to learn more about our certified organic wine?  You can find out more about organic wine here.

Otherwise, feel free to browse our wines – all will be the perfect addition to a sumptuous healthy meal.

Buy Organic Red Wine

You can buy organic red wine online by clicking here at Harris Organic Wines. You can choose from certified organic shiraz or organic malbec wines. Matured in oak casks in the underground cellar to provide a rich and smooth tasting organic red wine.

Harris Organic Wines

One of the best organic wineries is Harris Organic Wines, located in Perth, Western Australia, in the Swan Valley Wine Region. You will find them 30 kilometres from the Perth CBD.

This small, certified organic winery uses chickens, neighbouring guinea fowl and other animals to naturally fertilize the grapes and reduce weed seeds.

At Harris Organic Wines, everything is part of an integrated system, from grapevine to red wine bottle.

Every element of the estate plays a part in the result of the wines that are produced; including volunteers, animals, plants, microbes, climate, location and soil.

We are sure you will enjoy drinking organic red wine for its organic wine benefits.

Interesting facts about a Swan Valley Winery

Here are some interesting facts asked of Duncan Harris, owner and winemaker at Harris Organic Wines, when interviewed.

What are 4 interesting facts that you would like people to know about your Swan Valley winery, Harris Organic Wine and Spirits

Some of the interesting facts about Harris Organic Wine are:

  • Claims to have the only certified organic liqueurs made from grapes in the world
  • Is the only certified organic block of land in the Perth metropolitan area.
  • Makes the only certified organic brandy in Australia
  • Be Number one on Google for “Organic Wine Perth”

Which organic wine is your best seller?

Organic Rose’ wine and our dry white wine Verdelho are the best selling organic wines

Winemakers favourite organic wine you have on your current portfolio.

Our organic Shiraz red wine, because it is a wonderful grape for the Swan Valley climate, the rich duplex soil we have and the elegance and richness the organic shiraz produces. Ask at the cellar door what is the best shiraz you have.

What do you feel sets you apart from all the other wineries in the region?

What sets you apart from all the other wineries in the Swan Valley wine region. We are certified organic because we believe in looking after the planet and being as sustainable as possible. We have lots of solar power and an electric lawnmower. We use no herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilisers. Who wants to drink herbicide residues with your wine?

Do you have a resident “winery dog” and what’s their name?

The resident cat’s name is Rosie and our vicious dog whose name was Lucy. Sadly Lucy was bitten and killed by a large hound that had escaped from a neighbouring property. Both are 2011 vintage. They love visitors who don’t bring their four-legged friends. They are the boss.

What is your winery’s ‘birthday’?

Our Swan Valley wineries birthday is on the first of January. We were established in 1998 and our cellar door opened on the 1st of January 2000.

How old are your oldest organic vines and what variety are they?

What are our oldest vines? The first vines planted were organic Shiraz planted in 1999. There are 900 vines of dry-grown shiraz.

Where are your organic wines distributed?

Our organic wines are available through our Cellar door and one bottle shop in Perth, Wembley Downs Liquor Barons. Another, in Geraldton WA and organic wine online through our organic wine store website.

Which organic wine is your most awarded? Do you have any recent winery awards you would like to boast about?

We have many medals awarded over 20 years of wine shows. Gold medals have been awarded for our shiraz liqueurs and vintage ports. We received a silver medal for the 2009 Liqueur Shiraz and a bronze medal 2018 Chenin blanc from the 2019 Swan Valley wine Show.

 Lastly, are there any special organic wine deals?

Are there any special organic wine deals? As we have special deals occasionally, it is always good to ask. Just ask at the cellar door. There is always a special at our cellar door in Perth’s Swan Valley Wine Region or join our wine club for discounted wine.

Interesting facts, organic cellar door at Harris Organic
organic cellar door

Trousseau comes to the Swan Valley.

This is a story about the grape variety Trousseau. In 1998 in the Swan Valley Western Australia, my organic vineyard was not established.  I wanted to purchase grapes from good Swan Valley growers.

I was introduced to Bill Vinicombe.  His family owned the old Socol property on the eastern side of the railway line in Herne Hill.

Bill had three vineyards, one on the red bank along the Swan River, another in Herne Hill beside the highway and the rest east of the railway line. On Great Northern Highway the block contained muscat a petits grains rouge, pedro ximenez and a few alternate varieties. Bill called one “black riesling”.

So fond of the variety he grafted a row of cabernet sauvignon over to this unknown variety on his home block beside the Swan River.

Several knowledgeable persons had looked at this variety regarding identification. At one stage Petit Verdot and Petit Morceau we discussed, however, the grape matured to high Baume and much earlier than cabernet sauvignon. These were discounted.

Further identification in 2007 with the leaves and fruit matched against the pictures and description in the book,” Wine Grape Varieties” by Kerridge and Antecliff, I identified this as the Bastardo grape.

Trousseau in the Swan Valley
Trousseau grape in the Swan Valley

Trousseau Winemaking

Bill gave me half a tonne of grapes to process into wine in 2005.  French-style wine was made. That is; minimal intervention, natural yeasts, fermented warm on solids. Matured in a barrique for six months prior to bottling. Sold in 2006 at the cellar door under the label LEDASWAN 2005 Petite Verdot.

A young French winemaker Kevin Mazier came to experience the 2012 Swan Valley vintage with Harris Organic Wines. He brought with him two bottles, one was a bottle of Cotes du Jura, Domaine des Ronces, 2010 Trousseau wine.

I was intrigued to note that this was a wine I had seen before. In 2005 I tasted the variety Bastardo. Luckily there were two bottles of 2005 wine left in my cellar to taste against the younger 2010 bottle.

Kevin confirmed that even with age differences, these two wines were made of the same variety.


There are numerous references to the variety Bastardo and trousseau being similar varieties. Robinson, Jancis (2006). The Oxford Companion to Wine, third edition. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0198609902 mentions  ampelographer Comte A Odart.

Wikipedia states:

Bastardo (Trousseau Noir, Trousseau grape) is an old variety of red wine grape. It is grown in small amounts in many parts of Western Europe; most famously it is used in Portuguese port wine. It makes deep cherry red wines with high alcohol and flavours of red berry fruits.

Why would it be Trousseau?

A French man Joseph Millard lived in the Swan Valley many years ago.  From Guildford, he would ride his horse to the vineyard each day and ride home again. His vineyard had many varieties. He brought these directly from France when customs clearance was not an issue.   To be continued….

Bastardo – Swan Valley

Bastardo comes to the Valley of the Black Swan

What is Bastardo and Trousseau and why is it in the Swan Valley?

As you may recall, I was investigating the origins of a wine grape varietal called Bastardo found in the Swan Valley. I discovered a cache of a grape referred to locally as Black Riesling. Having identified the variety as Bastardo, I decided to make some Rose’ with it. It sold out quite quickly. I gave the mystery little thought thereafter, being preoccupied with establishing my organic vineyard and winery.

The variety Bastardo is not only Spanish for bastard, it is also an Italian Town in the Perugia province. Bastardo is a baseball player (Antonio Bastardo) for the Philadelphia Phillies, an Ibiza artist, and a music single by Charlotte Hatherley.

Bastardo Swan Valley
Bastardo Swan Valley

Jura, France

Then, in 2012 a young French winemaker named Kevin Mazier came to stay with us. He came to complete an Australian winemaking internship.
Kevin wanted to include Bio or Organic winemaking in this experience. Kevin’s family are viticulturalists and winemakers in the Jura, in the north east of France. Kevin brought with him two bottles of wine. One of these bottles was a Cote du Jura, Domaine des Ronces, 2010 Trousseau, a lovely red wine similar to a light dry Shiraz!

The region of Jura, by the way borders France and Switzerland.  Jura gave its name to the Jurassic period of prehistory. Upon tasting,  I was transported to the making of the red wine Bastardo vintage I had made.  When tasted I had a very strong feeling I knew this varietal.

Fortunately, there were two bottles of the red 2005 “Petit Verdot” wine still left in my cellar. Upon tasting, young Kevin agreed that despite the age difference, it was doubtless that the French Trousseau and the Swan Valley Bastardo were indeed the same variety. Further, this was confirmed upon research when I discovered that indeed, Trousseau Noir (Trousseau or Bastardo) is an old variety grown in small amounts in many parts of Western Europe. This includes the winemaking region of Jura.

In Australia a small amount of Bastardo is grown under the name Gros Cabernet; so the must thickens. This variety is also famously used to make Portuguese port red wine. So, how did the French Bastardo come to be in Bill Vinicombe’s little vineyard in the antipodean valley of the Black Swans?

Where from here

Mr. John Kosovich OBE a friend and neighbour and another Valley vigneron who was born and grew up in the Swan Valley commented. He said that in the early to mid 20th century there was a French Canadian man who owned a vineyard in the Swan Valley. Joseph Millars was his name and he apparently resided at Margaret Street, Midland Junction.

His vineyard was about 40 rows and possibly just 5 acres, containing nonetheless over 20 unknown grape varieties. I myself have 5 acres under vine and grow 8 varieties in my organic vineyard, so it is not especially unusual.  Mr Joseph Millar’s story is not known.  It may never be known from where this gentleman procured the cuttings for the Trousseau or Bastardo. If this vine could speak, what stories it could tell!

Organic Wine in the West

Organic Wine in the West

By Louise FitzRoy; “We’ve created a niche and people come to us for that niche.” Harris Organic Wine in Western Australia is the only certified organic distiller in Australia making brandy and vodka for the national and Asian markets. Owner Duncan Harris says, “We sell a lot of wine and spirits online and have just started exporting our certified organic brandy and organic vodka that was released in 2019 to Asia.” read more about our organic wine blog.

Harris Organic Wines
Harris Organic Wines

“It is proving extremely popular with Asian countries and here in Australia. Our spirit is used in making the only Australian fortified organic wines, which are winning medals at the Swan Valley Wine Show. We were producing spirit for our fortified organic wines, so thought we’d make the most of it. Vodka has the same spirit base used to fortify our ports.

Selling  Organic Wine Direct

“All our sales into Australia and Asia are done with online sales. No intermediary; no wholesalers. We ship direct, door-to-door, with no import duty for Hong Kong.” In 1998 Duncan Harris bought a property in the Swan Valley – the oldest wine region in Western Australia and about 30 kilometres from Perth – and started establishing an organic vineyard. Their first vintage was in 1999 using Swan Valley grapes from a neighbouring dry grown vineyard.

Duncan says, “Most of our handmade produce is sold at the cellar door, which opened in 2000, besides one bottle shop in Perth. We prefer to sell “cellar door” as we are able to give seated tastings, build a relationship with our customers. This develops our brand. We don’t need to worry about competing against other organic wineries in established wine states in Australia.” “We have no desire to sell interstate because the wholesalers want 30 per cent markup.

This means we would have to make twice as much wine for the same income. “We are looking for more markets in Western Australia however. Some years ago we sent out a survey asking our customers where they would prefer to buy our wine.

People asked us to supply bottle shops in the city.  We asked a few stores about their range of customers and whether they would like to stock our organic product and most were not interested. This has been disappointing considering how close we are to Perth. “I’d also like to target more overseas markets, but you have to consider whether the effort of doing so is worth it.

Organic Wine overseas markets

Duncan would like to sell his wine to an organic wine, all-natural wine bar in New York or Paris, but with the continual trips required – not to mention the import and export permits that are necessary – you’d spend a whole year doing it and may not even end up selling any wine. You would need to be there several times a year to service the customers, the wholesalers and the importer. Personally, he would prefer to be at home driving the tractor.”

According to Duncan, there are only about 10 organic wineries in Western Australia. “We are the only certified organic winery in the Perth area. We became certified organic in 2006. There’s a big enough market for more than one of us, however, not many wineries want to venture into the organic industry. It starts with the vineyard. There are only a few viticulturists that have the energy and passion to get out and dig weeds and walk vineyards day after day.”

The environment, social aspects, customs and economics are four important elements of Duncan’s sustainability plan. “I built an underground cellar for naturally cooler storage temperatures and we bottle our wine in recyclable glass and cork if we can get Australian bottles. Year after year cork mouth bottles are harder to obtain. We use very small amounts of electricity in producing a litre of wine because we dont have a very large chilling system. This is low compared with the average usage for most other wineries in Australia. We also use low amounts of preservatives and additives.”

Organic Wine Pricing

Being an organic producer in a state well known for producing high quality wines has not influenced Duncan’s price point.  I add up the production costs plus margin, but being organic doesn’t mean that I need to raise the price point. My wine is competitive with other high quality wine in this country.

He says the business’s online presence,  continues to be very important to its growth and viability.  This includes being on Facebook and Instagram. This is where people look for answers and this is how many of our customers have found us. You’ve got to be online, otherwise you’ll miss out.

Organic Wine Chemicals

People in general are not aware of the herbicide, pesticide and chemical fertiliser residues found in wines. More marketing of the differences and health benefits will increase the awareness and the demand for organic wine.”

Swan Valley Wine Events

It’s not unusual for Duncan to host the occasional ‘Brandy evening’ at the winery. This gives him the opportunity to educate people about his products, enabling guests to ask questions about organic viticulture. “To make a supply chain work, it’s like building a brick wall. Do it one brick at a time.” Harris Organic Wines is the only certified organic winery and vineyard of Perth’s Swan Valley wineries.

“We believe that the organic wine movement is a world-wide trend because smart consumers are demanding to know exactly what is going into their foods. It represents a social backlash against corporate monopolies who are fundamentally only interested in extending shelf life and profits, rather than human life and ecological sustainability.

We say: think biological welfare – not warfare… it is the way of the future.

Wine Fermenting on Solids

Fermenting on Solids

 “Fermenting on solids” is a wine making term. This technical article quotes several sections from AWRI. “Secrets of fermenting on solids” by the Australian Wine Research Institute  (AWRI).

Duncan Harris at Harris Organic Wines ferments his white wines on partial “solids”, while most Australian winemakers ferment white grapes off solids, what does this mean?

Meanwhile, all red wine is fermented on solids as the skins and pips are retained in the fermentation vessel, during fermentation.

organic grapes
Praying mantis after insects near organic fermenting grapes

Fermenting white grapes

organic grapes fermenting on solids
organic white grapes

Fermenting white grape juices containing high levels of grape solids can result in increased hydrogen sulphide production during primary fermentation. However, excessively clarifying juices may result in fermentation difficulties. Attenuated or stuck primary fermentation resulting in elevated levels of volatile acidity may occur.

Textbooks on winemaking

Well says winemaking text 101.

There are plenty of textbooks available about fermentation.

Some are

Handbook of Enology, Volume 1: The Microbiology of Wine and Vinifications

The Handbook of Enology: Volume 2, The Chemistry of Wine Stabilisation and Treatments

Wine Analysis and Production by Bruce W. Zoecklein, Kenneth C. Fugelsang, Barry H. Gump, Fred S. Nury

While there is a lot to be said about winemaking 101. For Winemaking 101, previous work by the (AWRI)  has revealed that fermenting on grape solids also results in significantly more polysaccharides in white wines.

 This is due to more than extensive skin contact, using pressings, and even more than partially fermenting white juice on skins. Higher levels of polysaccharides are thought to positively contribute to white wine mouth-feel.

Polysaccharides also enhance both protein and cold stability resulting in less bentonite fining and lower refrigeration costs.

While juices will naturally clarify under the action of gravity given time. Commercial vintage logistics dictate that the settling process be achieved as quickly as possible.

“We never say we have plenty of time, it’s vintage”.  We don’t say this.  

Enzymes for fast clarification

Adding pectolytic enzymes achieved fast clarification.  Adding enzymes, which within minutes, ‘mulch down’ the juice polysaccharides that inhibit settling.  This hastens clarification. Alternatively, settling grape juice can be sped up by adding bentonite as its charged surface helps to agglomerate grape solids into heavy particles which precipitate more easily.

Juice Clarification

Meanwhile, the AWRI investigated the effect of different types of juice clarification (natural settling, enzyme and bentonite assisted settling) on the macromolecular composition of white wine.

Clarification methods and the time taken to achieve various levels of clarity are being investigated. Polysaccharide, protein and phenolic composition levels are also being investigated by AWRI.

For more information about the fermentation of our wines, please contact me by email in the first instance.

More info can be obtained from the article,  PROJECT 3.1.4 by AWRI.

Organic Natural Wine – What does it mean?

By Duncan Harris ” WINE, ALL OF ITSELF – Organic Natural Wine. “
When Duncan talks about organic natural wine he is talking about more than the fact that his Swan Valley winery and vineyard  is certified organic.
He is an Australian natural wine specialist and is quietly surprised how natural wine has become such a hot topic of conversation among many a wine aficionado’s.

Natural Wine Definition

What is Natural Wine?

The definition of natural wine seems as plastic as there are vintner’s making it. Duncan would like to state for the record that his philosophy of Natural Wine is an organic wine.

A wine that begins in an ideal vineyard, is always hand-picked, gently pressed, fermented with natural yeasts, unfined, unfiltered, aged and sealed preferably with cork.

The wine should be stable and not liable to spoil. Therefore, a scientific approach to the basic chemistries of winemaking needs to adhere to.

The electrical energy used should be sustainable sourced also. Ideally, he recommends all the free solar energy that vintners have at their disposal during vintage should be harnessed with photovoltaic (PV) panels.

Swan Valley Natural Wine maker
Swan Valley Natural Winemaker – Duncan Harris

Natural Wine specifications

1. The Vineyard – must be not irrigated. This means that the fruit does not uptake artificial moisture as from dammed water or underground water. This means that the water is sourced by the (quite resourceful) vines – making for high-quality fruit.

The vines are hand-pruned and dressed, de-leafing is carried out to reduce fungicide spraying and the fruit is hand-picked when the sugar level is optimal for good wine-making.

2. Natural dessert wine fruit should be picked late in the season and very high in sugar. It is crushed before ferment starts.

Fermentation via natural yeasts (another gift from the Gods of wine). Thereafter, the must is pressed by any means practicable. Duncan uses a basket press, to extract the partially fermented juice.

3. The wine should be unfined and unfiltered. There is a saying,” Good wine falls bright”.

This means very little to no sediment most of which can be avoided by age settling prior to bottling and decanting after opening on the part of the consumer. Any protein haze is a natural part of the process of maturation.

4. The still wine should be sealed with cork as it is a naturally sustainable product.  Cork is a renewable resource and uses 1/2 the electricity to produce, and hence half the CO2 than alternatives like aluminium. Unfortunately, electrical energy is cheap and aluminium screw caps are about half the price of corks. Pet Nat and Sparkling wines may have a crown seal. They keep longer.

Want to know more about Australian Natural Wine?

Want to know more about Australian Natural Wine? ABC natural wine article

In conclusion, organic natural wines are better for you and the environment. Enjoy organic wine in moderation.

Questions & Answers – Interview

How long have you been operating Harris Organic Winery?

We invited Duncan Harris to give some questions and answers about his venture into winemaking.  He purchased the property in 1998. He has always grown organic grapes and made organic wine, however, only became certified in 2006. Prior to him purchasing the property the land had 13 years of rest as the vines were removed in 1985. The Baskerville property was sold by the original owners who held it from the 1920s in approximately 1985.

Obviously you grow organic grapes, do you grow anything else or are you a mono-crop?

I grow lupins, sour sobs, turnip, radish, vetch and grasses of varying kinds between the 30 rows of vines. I use these plants to create green manure. That is there’s a lot of goodness in the plants, I chop it up and turn it into the soil which provides nutrients to the soil. In the summertime, I grow watermelons and pumpkins. I also have olives and oranges growing in the orchard.

Swan Valley Natural Wine maker
Natural Winemaker – Duncan Harris

Do you do companion planting?

Yes and No. I plant lupins which produce nitrogen for the soil. There are nodules on their roots which are released to the soil microbes and plant roots to use. I grow it and harvest the seed for the following year. The plants take in carbon dioxide and produce cellulose, a carbon-based material, which in turn returns carbon to the soil. There are no companion plants in the literature regarding grapevines, however rowing green manure crops, like lupins improve the soil and help the soil fungi feed the roots of the vines.

Do you sell anything other than wine?

Yes, certified organic vodka and an un-oaked brandy I call eau de vie and three and 10-year-old wood-aged vintage brandy.

Have you ever had a year of wine where you didn’t have any grapes to harvest? No, the Swan Valley is a most friendly place to grow grapes.

Swan Valley vines
Organic vineyard

How long does it take to create wine from beginning to end?

From the planting of the grapes, it takes 7 years for the best vintage wines. You can get a crop of grapes in 18 months but it’s not very good for high-quality wine. From the picking of the grapes to the bottling of the wine can take anything from nine months to ten years.

I grow 24 madeleine vines that produce delicious table grapes that go to organic retailers between Christmas and New Year. If you keep the grapes in your fridge they can last up to a month.

What do you do to manage pests?

I employ a variety of techniques. Chickens, known as chooks in Australia, help to manage the weevils and other soil-based bugs, usually the larva of such and we love the spiders in our vineyard – they eat some of the bugs and some of the bugs eat them! They also catch lots of different flies.

What are some sprays a conventional grower could use on their crops? Any known side effects? There are many sprays available to conventional farmers. Ask Monsanto about herbicide resistance and residue levels in domestic animals and humans!

Would you personally ever drink conventional wine?

There are lots of conventional wines I have tried. This gives a good basis to understand what good wines are available in particular styles. All part of a good education!

What kind of nasties can you find in there? Heavy Metals?

See our page on additives:
Wine Additives and the mean residual level in the grapes can be found here: Some of the greatest users of chemicals in the table grape industry.  Poisons are used in vineyards.

What do you use to preserve the wine? There are natural preservatives in wine, they being alcohol, tannin and sulphur dioxide (SO2). SO2 is added to keep the wine fresh, clean and clear appearance in the bottle and give it longevity.  The organic standards allow up to 150 ppm SO2 even more in dessert wines.

Question: Do you have any preservative free wine?

What does this entail?

I have some small quantities of “pet nat wines”. Pet nat stands for petillant naturel. An ancient way of making a fresh preservative-free sparkling wine.

Question: Have you seen much growth in the organic wine market?

The organic industry continues to grow, promoted by the number of exports to other countries, including the USA and EU.  You are able to import our organic wines to the US, Asia, EU and the UK. For oversea shipments, we use Get Freighted.

Question: If you turn back time would you do anything differently?

No, just keep learning from my mistakes.

Dosage in Sparkling Wines

What is Dosage in wine and what is it doing in my Sparkling wine?

Festive Season – Sparkling Wine

It’s December and its time for a dosage of the holiday festive season. A time for family get together at the beach, (in Australia) and a time for reflection.  It is time to enjoy the fruits of a vignerons hard work, and what better than a sparkling wine. Traditional sparkling wines are not that easy to produce, particularly when they are disgorge by hand.

At the family get together, tension can be high so sparkling wine is the answer to calm the nerves. One thing we can all do to arm ourselves by learning a little bit about the wine we’ll be drinking.

If you’re lucky, that’ll involve some organic sparkling wine or what the French are allowed to call Champagne.

One of the best words you can chuck out there is “dosage” (you can use a French accent if you like.)  Of course, then you need know what it is.

Enjoying wine at Harris Organic
Enjoying wine at Harris Organic

Essentially, dosage in wine is some form of sweetness (sugar, or wine and sugar and brandy) added to a sparkling wine to balance the palate structure.

Grapes in the Champagne region have to struggle to ripen so they end up with less grape sugar to make the wine alcohol. Many European sparklings and Champagnes are aggressively acidic and low in alcohol. The dosage is a simple corrective measure, to either balance the acid or to actually impart some level of sweetness. And depending on the amount of dosage added, you’ll end up with a variety of sparkling wines, defined by terms that can be a bit confusing but are basically a scale from sweetest to driest.

In Australia’s warmer climate the wines have a higher potential alcohol and less searing acid allowing for more balance and less dosage to balance the palate.

Watch on Youtube: Disgorging Sparkling Wine

Dosage in Sparkling Wine

Here are the recommended dosage for a particular style of sparkling wine.

Doux: 50 or more grams of sugar added per litre. This will taste outrageously sweet to most sparkling wine palates. It’s about 2 teaspoons’ per bottle—but back in the days of yesteryear, Champagne tended to come a lot sweeter. Do you remember the hollow stem glasses with the cube of sugar in the base, exuding the effervescing bubbles to continue? I do.

Demi-Sec: Dosed with 35 to 50 grams of sugar. Again, higher on the sweet sparkling spectrum than most of us are willing to go.  In Australia there are a lot of cheap sparkling with this dosage, namely the Australian invention of red sparkling “burgundies” .


Sec: “Sec,” in French, means dry. But dry here actually indicates a medium-sweet sparkling. 17 to 35 grams of sugar, on average a teaspoon per litre.

Extra Sec: Literally “Extra Dry,” which would seem to indicate a very acidic wine but here means a bit less sweet than Sec, thanks to about 12 to 20 grams of sugar.

Brut: A mere 6 to 15 grams of sugar added, really for balance in Australia. Slightly rounder than “Extra Brut” because of the increased added sugar, and the type of sparkling we tend to drink most.

Extra Brut: With fewer than 6 grams of sugar added, this may come off with usually a higher apparent acid on the palate and accentuate the carbonation. However with ripe grapes the acid is reduced.

This is the style of modern handmade traditional method sparkling of the Swan Valley.

Brut Nature: For the winemaker to showcase the essential nature (hence the name) of the sparkling wine or Champagne with no sugar added. This is not common, however more common in the the Swan Valley than other regions. Higher notes of minerality and acid, basically a party in your mouth, and everyone’s invited, except the sugar! Brut nature may also be called Pet Nat.

Enjoy in moderation.

Where to buy organic sparkling wine

There are a number of places online on where to buy organic sparkling wine. One of these places is Harris Organic Wines online shop, where you will find a range of organic sparkling made in a champagne style. Champagne style as mentioned above is call “sparkling wine” in Australia.